Settle Up: Tools for Managing Roommate Finances

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Settle Up: Tools for Managing Roommate Finances

Oh My Apartment · Mar 23, 2009

Taking on a roommate can be a fast way to reduce your expenses: suddenly, you are only responsible for half the rent and utilities. But you still have to collect your roommate’s share and make sure that it makes its way to the landlord or utility company. If you split other expenses with your roommate, like food, the situation just gets more complex.

With the advent of online budgeting, there are now several tools you and your roommate can use to track your shared expenses — and ensure that everyone covers that share they’ve agreed to.

BillShare is one of the simplest options. This free web-based application allows you to create receipts for your expenses and divide them between individuals, as well as record payments to make sure that each expense is covered.

Another option is Expensure, which is also free. You can add information to Expensure from your phone as well as see how certain debts can cancel each other out. In addition to deciding how you want to manage your shared expenses, you will also need to consider a few other factors. An important question is just who is actually responsible for specific bills in the end.

Who will the landlord come looking for if the rent is late? Whose credit will take a hit if the utility bill doesn’t get paid on time? There are plenty of techniques for deciding exactly how you will split the rent — you can read up on them in Tips for Splitting Rent Among Roommates — but it’s important to decide early on who takes responsibility for each expense, not just the rent.

There are a few considerations beyond just who is the most responsible when you’re deciding how to allocate responsibilities for you and your roommate’s finances. If one of you has significantly better credit than the other, that fact can affect the size of the deposit the electric company or other utility provider asks you for.

If one of you needs to build up your credit score, you may have an added incentive for taking responsibility for the bills. No matter who winds up taking responsibility for a bill, though, it’s important to remember that the person with their name on the contract is legally responsible for making sure the full payment is made. “My roommate didn’t give me his share” isn’t an excuse that holds up in court.

Suggestions for other tools to keep tabs on who owes what to whom, when — that is, besides good old pencil and paper? Share your tips below.

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